British International Investment

Helping small businesses cash in on digital transactions

As the switch from cash to digital payments becomes increasingly widespread in Africa, service providers can guide merchants in catching up with the technological changes.


The potential of digital technology to accelerate development is vast. Mobile money, for example, has been adopted by millions of people in developing countries, and is used daily. It has broadened access to finance around the world, and is revolutionising how business is conducted.

Globally, customers are shifting away from cash towards digital payments for e-commerce, savings, credit and pay-as-you-go utilities. Research shows digital transactions accounted for the majority of mobile-money flows for the first time in 2019, and more value is circulating in the mobile-money system than is being cashed out.

The fastest switch from cash to digital payments has taken place in sub-Saharan Africa – but many small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in this region are still ‘offline’. As people transfer to mobile money, it’s essential for these businesses to meet the growing demand for digital transactions and maximise their economic potential.

Payment services providers can introduce these businesses to digital platforms and help them accept credit cards, mobile payments and cross-border payments securely. As well as improving economic opportunities for small businesses, this will also improve consumers’ access to goods and services.

  • Who

    Direct Pay Online (DPO)

  • Where


  • What

    • DPO serves 100,000 merchants across 19 African countries, helping them accept and process card and online payments
    • The firm processes transactions worth $2 billion annually


DPO serves 100,000 merchants across 19 African countries

Direct Pay Online (DPO), one of Africa’s leading payment services providers, has started helping SMEs in this way. It’s a major player in technology, usability and security, and our investment through fund manager Apis Partners has helped transform it into a pan-African provider. Today, DPO processes transactions worth $2 billion annually, and serves 100,000 merchants in 19 African countries, helping them accept and process all major cards, mobile money and e-wallets.

This impressive performance has attracted the attention of international payments businesses such as Visa, Naspers and Mastercard, who are now working with DPO to help connect more people and businesses to the global economy. One example of this collaboration is DPO’s partnership with Visa in Kenya, which is enabling 20,000 more merchants to accept mobile payments.

In July 2020, Network International, a UK-listed, global payments business, announced its acquisition of DPO.

We invest in digital financial services providers, like DPO, to allow banking services to be delivered at a reduced cost to people who were previously excluded from formal financial services.

$2 billion

DPO processes transactions worth $2 billion annually

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